Famous Irish Authors, Poets, and Playwrights

Ireland is known for it’s great production of music, writing, poetry, and plays. Here are some of the most famous Irish arts producers…

Ireland has made numerous contributions to world literature in all of its branches.

The historic influence of Irish Language traditions, such as heavy oral practice of legends, myths, and poetry has contributed to making English Literature in Ireland very distinct from literature in other countries. Dozens of Irish authors have helped sculpt the literary world today.

One Irishman, by the name of William Yeats is the cornerstone of Irish poetry. Born in 1865, Yeats is one of the few writers whose greatest works were completed after earning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923. Some of these works include The Tower and The Winding Stair and Other Poems. Yeats was greatly honored after winning the prize and acknowledged the significance of an Irish winner so soon after Ireland gained its independence. Yeats is generally considered to be one of the 20th century’s key English language poets. He has been considered a Symbolist poet due to his allusive imagery and symbolic structures in his works. Some claim that Yeats created the transition from 19th century – 20th century modernism as Picasso did in painting. Yeats died in 1939.

Seamus Heaney, a second Irish poet, was born in 1939. Heaney, like Yeats, was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. Heaney is still alive to this day, and has not ceased to produce marvelous works, even after having a stroke in 2006. As well as producing great poems, Heaney also showed his political prowess in each of his works. For the most part, his slight political implications refer to those who united Ireland and the sacrifice they made to make it possible. In 2003, when asked if there was anyone in pop culture that produced poetry and lyrics, Heaney replied, “There is this guy Eminem. He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy.”

A third famous Irish works producer, John Millington Synge, is well known for his plays and dramatic pieces rather than his production of novels. Born in 1871, Synge began his career with his interest in music. After he graduated from his private schools, he traveled to Germany to study music. Partly due to his shy nature, Synge did not want to perform in public; therefore he abandoned his musical dreams and pursued his literary dreams. He is most renown for his play The Playboy of the Western World, which induced riots on it’s opening day in his co-founded arena, Abbey Theater. He spent most of his time away from Ireland after having the woman of his dreams reject his two proposals. Suffering from Hodgkin’s disease, Synge still managed to produce a multitude of famous plays and other literary works. He died in 1909.

Born in 1882, James Augustine Joyce is arguably the most well known and most influential author to emerge from Ireland. Most famous for his groundbreaking novels Ulysses, Finnegan’s Wake, The Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce successfully changed Irish Literature as we know it. Although Joyce spent most of his life away from Ireland, Dublin is the setting in most of his novels. Joyce’s work has been the topic of numerous discussions from all types of scholars. Although some people have critiscized Joyce’s work, literary theory has embraced his innovation and ambition. Joyce has also been said to influence, of all subjects, physics. The phrase “Three Quarks for Muster Mark” in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is often called the source of the physicists’ word “quark,” which is the name of one of the elementary particles. Joyce even has a holiday dedicated to him: Every year, on June 16th, commemorators of James Joyce walk through Dublin, follwing the path from his famous novel “Ulysses.” There is also the “James Joyce Ramble,” a 10 kilometer run in Dedham, Massachussets. Also, the James Joyce Society was founded in 1947 at the Gotham Book Mart in Manhattan, New York. Joyce died in 1941, but his legacy continues to this day.

Frank Delaney, born in 1942, is an Irish novelist, journalist, and broadcaster. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “Ireland.” Delaney also wrote a novel entitled “James Joyce’s Odyssey,” which became a bestseller in the United Kingdom. James Joyce’s Odyssey is not a remake of the original novel, but a map to the Dublin featured in Joyce’s book. Nowadays, Delaney dominates the literature scene in Ireland. His novels attract all types of readers, although they may not be the deepest and highest quality pieces available.

Colm Toibin, Born in 1955, is noticed more for his intuitive and masterful writing, rather than the popularity of his novels. His grandfather, Patrick Toibin, served in the Irish Republican Army. Toibin has won the 1993 Encore Award for his second novel, The Heather Blazing. His novel, The Master won the 2006 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Los Angeles Times Novel of the Year, the Stonewall Book Award, and Lambda Literary Award. Also, The Master was noticed by the New York Times as one of the top 10 books of 2004. Toibin is still improving his literary collection, and will continue to produce quality and moving pieces for years to come.

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